Pest plant black-grass surveillance continues

Although there has been no sign of the invasive pest plant black-grass in Mid Canterbury, surveillance will continue.

Surveillance is being undertaken between Ashburton and Methven, after a spillage of red fescue seed believed to be contaminated with black-grass earlier this year.

Black-grass, also known as slender meadow foxtail, is an invasive plant that affects winter crops in Europe, including wheat, grass seed, rapeseed, forage legumes and barley. It has developed resistance to many herbicides used for grass weed control.

Three rounds of surveillance have been completed and a further six rounds are scheduled during the next five months.

Ministry for Primary Industries response manager David Yard said contractors had applied selective herbicide to areas thought to be at high risk of black-grass establishment. A second round of treatment was set for March next year, he said.

''It's all going very well, but we're not out of the woods yet. We've got another two and a-half years of surveillance and treatment before we can start calling the response a success or not.''

By Maureen Bishop.